by Neil Meyer
Indianapolis, Indiana- The Fort Wayne Mad Ants (9-6) welcomed in the Oklahoma City Blue (7-9) to Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. The Mad Ants are coming off a two-game series with the Capital City Go-Go, the G-League affiliate of the Washington Wizards. The Mad Ants split the series as they look to bounce back after a 126-123 loss on Monday.
The Go-Gos would seal the deal on Monday after a last second three from Davion Mintz with just two seconds remaining to give the Go-Gos a 126-123 victory. The Mad Ants are led by Justin Anderson who has turned things up a notch in the regular season as he is coming off a two-game stretch where he scored 68 points in the series vs the Go-Go. Anderson scored a season high 42 points in the Mad Ants 122-115 victory on Saturday.
The Mad Ants will be tested here this afternoon as they will only have nine available players for this one as Bennie Boatright, David Stockton, Deividas Sirvydis, Norvel Pelle and Eli Brooks are all unavailable for the Mad Ants. The Blue are riding a two-game winning streak as they look to build some momentum heading into the all-star break.
The Mad Ants would take an early 9-4 lead following a left-handed floater by Justin Anderson. The Mad Ants were starting to get live ball stops and create early turnovers after three early Blue Turnovers turned into five quick points for the Mad Ants.
Noah Starkey would make his first appearance since being acquired earlier this week for the Mad Ants vs his former team as the big man was looking to make an immediate impact on the inside. The Mad Ants extended their lead to 24-19 after Gabe York picked up a quick steal and found Tevin Brown for the easy layup forcing the Blue to call a timeout late in the quarter. Robert Woodard and Jahm’ius Ramsey would connect on consecutive threes late in the first quarter, but the Mad Ants would take a 28-27 lead early.
The Blue were looking to get the ball inside and attack the Mad Ants over the top with Sirvyidas out with an injury, they were looking to use their height and their advantage. Olivier Sarr and Robert Woodard were making a huge impact off the bench for the blue in the second quarter after a huge one-handed slam from Olivier Sarr made this a 37-33 game in favor of the Mad Ants with 9 minutes remaining in the first half. The Mad Ants would look to stop the momentum after Trevelin Queen knocked down an open three in transition that sparked a run for the Mad Ants. The Mad Ants continued to build momentum after Gabe York found a high flying Trevelin Queen late in the second half for a two-handed slam to give the Mad Ants a 61-55 lead.
The Mad Ants would take a 69-62 lead heading into halftime as both teams shot nearly 60% from the field in the first half. Ousmane Dieng led the way with 13 for the Oklahoma City Blue, while Gabe York had 14 for the Mad Ants. However, the Blue were using their depth to their advantage after Robert Woodard finished a great first half with 11 points on 4-5 shooting for the Blue.
The Mad Ants would strike first in the second half after a Kendall Brown steal would extend their lead to nine, but the Blue responded with a huge run after Sacha Killeya-Jones with six straight points. The Blue were making it an emphasis to crash the boards as they were starting to use height and length to advantage on the offensive end. The Mad Ants would fight back after a nice segment that extended their lead to thirteen as they led the Blue 94-81 after a Pedro Bradshaw putback after crashing the offensive boards.
The Mad Ants would take a 98-85 lead over the Blue heading into the fourth quarter despite a 36-23 difference on the glass. Fort Wayne continued to find a way to knock down shots as Gabe York led the way with a game high 19 points, while Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Ousmane Dieng each had 15 for the Blue.
The Mad Ants continued to pass the ball around, as their ball movement was phenomenal here this afternoon as eight players scored in double figures for the Mad Ants as they had a 111-106 lead over the Blue with 5:40 remaining. The Blue were slowly coming back after erasing the Mad Ants early 15-point lead before Gabe York knocked down a huge three to give the Mad Ants a 126-119 lead with just under 90 seconds to play.
The Mad Ants would hold despite a late effort and defeat the Oklahoma City Blue 133-119 after a huge performance from Gabe York, who finished with 27 points in his first game back after missing the last four games due to an ankle injury. Justin Anderson (22) and Trevelin Queen (21) weren’t far behind, as the Mad Ants did a fantastic job moving the ball around this afternoon as they saw eight players score in double figures. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who is on assignment from the Oklahoma City Thunder finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds and was very impressive to watch this afternoon, as the former second round draft pick was looking to find his way back up to the NBA soon with numbers like that. The Mad Ants just dominated this afternoon here at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where they put on an absolute shooting clinic as they shot 54% from the field despite only having nine healthy players for this contest.
“It was a great bounce back win from Monday,” said Mad Ants head coach Tom Hankins. “We have some guys injured. Just the fact we had nine healthy bodies this afternoon say’s a lot about this team.”
The Mad Ants improve to 10-6 on the season and will be back in action this Sunday as they welcome in the South Bay Lakers to Allen County War Memorial Coliseum as they look to build off the momentum set this afternoon heading into the All Star break.